As a change from blogging on trains, this post comes from Austin,Texas where I'm at the airport and about to start the long journey back to Manchester via Atlanta. I arrived in Austin on Saturday evening to take part in a delegation organised with the Department of International Trade and the British Consulate in Houston to the digital industries part of South by Southwest(SXSW).
To the extent SXSW is known in the UK it is largely for the music festival which kicks of tomorrow so sadly I won't see or hear any of the forty one British bands taking part. However, to give an idea of the significance of SXSW for digital industries, last year it was opened by President Obama, although any body who's been to Austin, strap line " keep Austin weird " will appreciate that they are very unlikely to invite his successor to do the same.
MIDAS have been coming here for three years now with a stand in the main exhibition hall aimed at attracting potential investors into Manchester's booming digital industries. This is the first time we have run an events programme alongside. Rowena Burns, Chief Executive of Manchester Science Partnerships, and a Phil Swan representing CityVerve, our Internet of Things(IoT) demonstrator project were also here as we promoted Manchester's smart city work.
The last two days have been packed with presentations and seminars either of Manchester on its own, or in conjunction with other cities. In between we had a number of side meetings with various companies and, in my case, with the Mayors of Austin and Denver, both cities that have a surprising amount in common with Manchester. It's a long way to come for two days, but we made full use of the time here.
The MIDAS team will be here until the exhibition closes and when we are all back in Manchester we will do a thorough debrief including of course the question of whether being here was good value. What is undoubtedly the case is that if Manchester is going to continue to thrive and grow strengthening our standing in international market places like SXSW will be evermore important.